Local Politics

Obama nomination hits historic chord for many

Posted August 28, 2008

— When Martin Luther King Jr. moved the nation in August 1963 by describing his dream of racial equality, Ralph Campbell was on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., to hear him speak.

"(I wanted) to join the hundreds of thousands of other people that were looking to change the face of communities in the nation and North Carolina," said Campbell, then a rising high school senior in Raleigh.

Forty-five years ago, bathrooms and drinking fountains in North Carolina were still separated by race, and the General Assembly had all white representation.

"In 12 years (in) public schools in Raleigh, even after schools were officially desegregated, I never had a black classmate in a class," said Gary Pearce, a Democratic consultant.

Pearce said integration has transformed and split the state Democratic Party in recent decades. Twenty-eight members of the General Assembly are now African-American, and the House of Representatives elected a black speaker. North Carolina voters have elected a black Supreme Court chief justice.

Campbell became the first black member of the Council of State, the group of statewide elected officials, when he was elected state auditor in 1992.

"It's so exciting to see where we've come from," he said.

That excitement will be heightened Thursday night when Barack Obama accepts his place as the first black presidential nominee of a major political party – on the 45th anniversary of King's iconic speech in Washington.

Campbell and Pearce said King and many others carved the path for Obama, but race remains a political wild card.

"Don't get carried away. We're still not Utopia," Pearce said.

Still, Campbell said Obama represents an emotional journey of racial progress.

"Forty-five years ago, standing there on the mall in Washington, to hear the speeches and to be a part of that dream from Raleigh and to end up (seeing Obama's nomination) in my lifetime," he said. "(It gives me) tears of joy, pride."


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  • jzapata816 Aug 29, 2008

    Very good point, Chaseme. His "followers" seem to not care about that racist reverend. But if it were McCain that were involved in any way with someone in a certain racist group, that would be different. What I am very, very extremely baffled by, is how does everyone seem to overlook the fact that this man, who is running for the President of The UNITED STATES, our country, whether he's black, white, yellow, outright refuses to stand and say the pledge of allegiance? Hello??

  • fbguru Aug 29, 2008

    I have heard nothing but "mlk's dream speech"...What Obama NEEDS to be showing during his campaign is Rev. Wright's "I hate the white man" speeches! Rev. Wright is the "man of God" Obama followed for over 20 years!!

  • rc4nc Aug 29, 2008

    Wow! John McCain picked Sarah Palin Governor of Alaska to be his vp running mate. Go gettem John....

  • rc4nc Aug 29, 2008

    Well, it just means that Hillary will have to wait until 2012 to try again. "We are the ones we've been waiting for" Obama's change message does not mean the majority of Americans want more and bigger government. I supported President Bush, but he ran promising "no nation building" His middle east improvement projects have only put us $4 trillion dollars deeper in debt. I expect the US to live within it's means, and that doesn't mean increasing and already confiscatory tax burden. Obama has already promised to raise taxes. John McCain has promised not to raise taxes. Guess who I'm going to vote for?

  • justiceforall Aug 29, 2008

    Annenberg Challenge

  • justiceforall Aug 29, 2008

    What a circus!

  • bronzegoddess40 Aug 28, 2008

    Beause all they say is he will be the first African American nominated president. why do they seem to forget that he is half white? Can't he be called a Caucasian American as well?!?

    Well he could but everybody is caught in the color thing and refer to him as black. Im sure when he looks in the mirror, he sees a black man and from some of these posts, I am sure that is the only way some other folks see him as well, not as a Caucasian.

  • bronzegoddess40 Aug 28, 2008

    Messiah is the name that all the haters have given him. I have never heard any of his supporters call him that. Wow.

  • Boot-the-DC-Tyrant Aug 28, 2008

    "I'm apparently missing your point uncg4heels... What does Obama being "half white" have to do with anything?"

    Beause all they say is he will be the first African American nominated president. why do they seem to forget that he is half white? Can't he be called a Caucasian American as well?!?

  • colliedave Aug 28, 2008

    MLK wanted one to be judged not on the color of his skin but the content of his character. Too many are voting for him solely on his race and are ignoring his total lack of character.

    If one is judged based on the company he keeps, what do the individuals with the last names Wright, Rezko, and Ayers indicate about the Messiah's character?